Democratic debate in Los Angeles

By Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 11:58 PM ET, Thu December 19, 2019
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11:32 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Who won the Los Angeles debate?

Analysis by CNN's Chris Cillizza

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Seven Democratic presidential candidates took the stage tonight in Los Angeles for the sixth debate in the 2020 election.

Here are the winners and losers from tonight's debate:

Winners: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Vice President Joe Biden, businessman Andrew Yang and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Losers: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders .... and Buttigieg (yes, he's a winner and a loser tonight)

Read CNN's Chris Cillizza's take on the debate here.

11:14 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Fact check: Yang said life expectancy in the US has declined. Here's what we know.

From CNN's Curt Devine

Maddie McGarvey for CNN
Maddie McGarvey for CNN

Businessman Andrew Yang contrasted the strength of the US economy with Americans’ well-being and said “depression, financial insecurity, student loan debt, even suicides and drug overdoses” are at record highs tonight.

“It has gotten so bad that our life expectancy as a country has declined for the last three years because suicides and drug overdoses have overtaken vehicle deaths for the first time in American history," Yang added.

Facts First: Yang is stretching these sad facts. He’s correct that life expectancy declined over a three-year period and while studies indicate these rates have risen in recent years, it’s impossible to say they’re at record highs.  

Depression is hard to quantify, though a Blue Cross Blue Shield study found, "Diagnoses of major depression have risen dramatically by 33 percent" between 2013 and 2016, and a study published in the journal Psychological Medicine found depression rose "significantly" among Americans age 12 and older from 2005 to 2015. 

It’s true that student loan debt, which has climbed to $1.5 trillion, has reached record levels

US suicide rates are the highest they’ve been since World War II, according to research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but suicide rates actually peaked in 1932, during the Great Depression. 

Drug overdose deaths increased between 1999 and 2017, but provisional data posted by the CDC earlier this month suggest that rate fell slightly last year – down to an estimated 69,000 deaths from about 70,000 the year before. 

Life expectancy decreased between 2014 and 2017, falling from 78.9 to 78.6, according to the CDC, which attributed the slight downtick to drug overdoses and suicides.  

A study by the by the National Safety Council found that the “odds of death” for suicide and opioid overdose were higher than motor vehicle crashes. But Yang is incorrect in the way he compared this to all of US history. There were only 36 highway fatalities in the year 1900, for example.   

10:56 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Fact check: Klobuchar's claim on Hillary Clinton's margin of victory

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar claimed tonight that in the 2016 US election, Hillary Clinton had her lowest margin of victory in Minnesota. Klobuchar argued that polls have her beating "Donald Trump by 18 points" in 2020 in the state.

Facts First: She’s basically right about the polls, but she’s wrong about the 2016 election results. 

In 2016, Hillary Clinton barely defeated Trump in Minnesota, winning by 1.6 percentage points. It was extremely close, but it wasn’t her tightest margin of victory, as Klobuchar claimed. That state was New Hampshire, where Clinton won by about 0.4%

Looking ahead to 2020, Klobuchar accurately cited a recent poll from her home state of Minnesota.

An October poll from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the largest newspaper in the state, found that Klobuchar would have a 17-point lead over Trump, which is a larger lead over the President than her Democratic opponents. (The poll had a 3.5% margin of error.)


10:49 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Fact check: Andrew Yang links Trump’s 2016 victory to shifts in manufacturing employment 

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Businessman Andrew Yang, whose campaign has focused on the threat automation poses to US workers, claimed that President Trump’s 2016 win was in part because “we blasted away 4 million manufacturing jobs” — and further claimed that 40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Iowa. 

Facts First: This is true, but only if you look back as far as the early 2000s. US manufacturing employment actually went up during President Barack Obama’s second term, and that’s continued under Trump. 

The US lost 4.4 million manufacturing jobs between January 2000 and November 2019. The sharpest declines during this nearly two-decade stretch happened during the 2001 recession and between late 2007 and mid-2009 – that is, during the financial crisis. 

Similarly, Iowa lost jobs during that period, shedding a total of 20,900 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

But looking at a more recent time frame, manufacturing jobs increased, improving from a net loss of 5.8 million jobs from 2000-2010. During Obama’s second term, and following Trump’s election, the sector added positions. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 385,000 additional manufacturing jobs were added between January 2013 and January 2017.

Since Trump took office, the sector has added another 497,000 jobs. 

Iowa showed the same increasing trend for manufacturing positions, both in the lead-up to Trump’s election and since he took office. 

That said, American factories have been suffering this year. The trade war has been weighing on business investment, demand for products and also hiring. The US manufacturing sector contracted for four months in a row through November, according to the Institute of Supply Management.

10:45 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Here's who spoke the most tonight

At the end of tonight's debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke the most at more than 20 minutes, followed closely by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

See the full breakdown below:

10:42 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Here's what the candidates said in their closing statements

 Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
 Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The final Democratic primary debate of 2019 has just wrapped up in Los Angeles.

The seven candidates made their final pleas to the American public in their closing statements tonight.

Here's what they said:

  • Tom Steyer: "I'm different from anybody else on this stage. Here's why. I'm running because corporations have bought our government and we need to return power to the people. For the last 10 years that's exactly what I've been doing, taking on unchecked corporate power."
  • Andrew Yang: "I know what you're thinking, America. How am I still on this stage with them?" Yang said to applause. "Our campaign is growing all the time because we are laser focused on solving the real problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place. I spent seven years helping create thousands of jobs in Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans, and other cities, serving as an ambassador of entrepreneurship under President Obama and I saw firsthand what many of you already know: Our country is falling apart."
  • Amy Klobuchar: "This primary comes down to some simple questions. Who has the best ideas, the best experience, mostly who can beat Donald Trump, and how will she do it. So Donald Trump built his fortune on, over time, over $413 million that he got from his dad. My grandpa, he was an iron ore miner, a union member. He saved money in a coffee can in the basement to send my dad to a community college. That's my family trust. I figure if you are given opportunity, you don't go into the world with a sense of entitlement. You go into it with a sense of obligation."
  • Pete Buttigieg: "So the nominee is going to have to do two things. Defeat Donald Trump and unite the country as president. It's a tall order. And in order to do it, we're going to need a nominee and a president who can respond to the crisis of belonging that is gripping our nation today."
  • Elizabeth Warren: "This is a dark moment in America. And yet I come here tonight with a heart filled with hope. All three of my brothers served in the military. They're all retired. They're all back in Oklahoma. One is a Democrat. Two are Republicans. But you know what unites my three brothers? Amazon. They are furious that Amazon reported $10 billion in profits and paid zero in taxes. My brother is a part of why America is ready to root out corruption and fight back. And that gives us a base to work from."
  • Bernie Sanders: "The truth is that real change always takes place, real change, always takes place from the bottom on up, never from the top on down. And that is why in this campaign I am so proud that we have over 1 million volunteers. We have some of the strongest grassroots organizations." 
  • Joe Biden: "Look, we all have big progressive plans and the question is who can deliver on those plans? It seems to me we have to ask ourselves three questions, straight up and honestly. Who has the best chance, most likely chance of defeating Donald Trump, who is the one most likely to do that. Number two, who can help elect Democrats to the United States Senate in states like North Carolina and Georgia and Arizona and other states. And thirdly, who can deliver legislatively. That requires you to look at our records. I have a significant record of getting significant things done."

10:34 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

The candidates were just asked if they would rather ask for forgiveness or give a gift to each other

Things got a little awkward on stage when the candidates were asked if they had to choose would they: ask for forgiveness from a candidate or give one of them a gift.

Here's how they responded:

  • Andrew Yang: He was left speechless by the question, but eventually answered. He said he would love to give each of the candidates on stage a copy of his book. "I wrote a book on it and if you like data, this book is for you. This goes for the people at home too, if you like data and books," he said.
  • Peter Buttigieg: "We know what a gift it would be for the future, for the company, for literally anybody up here to become president of the United States compared to what we've got. And we've got to remember, there are I don't know how many, we're up to 25 something have run for president in the democratic president. The moment we got a no, ma'am nominee, the 24 who aren't that nominee will have to rally around the one who does. Let's hope there's not too much to ask forgiveness for when that day comes."
  • Joe Biden: "And the reason I would give everyone here a gift is because they want to do something like I do, making their lives better because there's a lot of people who are hurting very, very, very badly."
  • Bernie Sanders: "I think the gift that all of us need to give to the American people is a very, very different vision of the reality of the Trump administration. And the vision that we need to bring forth is to create a government and a nation based on love and compassion, not agreed and hatred."
  • Elizabeth Warren: "I will ask for forgiveness. I know that sometimes I get really worked up. And sometimes I get a little hot. I don't really mean to. What happens is when you do 100,000 selfies with people, you hear enough stories about people who are really down to their last moments."
  • Amy Klobuchar: "I would ask for forgiveness any time any of you get mad at me. I can be blunt. But I am doing this because I think it is so important to pick the right candidate here. I do."
  • Tom Steyer: "So the gift that I would like to give everyone on this stage, which was the original question, is the gift of teamwork, because the question up here is, 'how are we together going to change this framework.' How are we together going to beat this corrupt and criminal president."
10:51 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Sanders and Biden spar other over health care

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Maddie McGarvey for CNN
Maddie McGarvey for CNN

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden fought over their health care plans Thursday night, with Sanders advocating for his signature “Medicare for All” single-payer proposal and Biden backing a plan that builds on Obamacare and maintains a role for private health insurers.

It started when Sanders was asked if -- given the reality that Senate Republicans would oppose his health care plan -- he would push any smaller measures in the more immediate future. He wouldn’t play ball, saying, “I think we will pass a Medicare for All single-payer system.”

Biden then advocated his plan, which would add a public option to Obamacare and put lower the caps on how much of their income Americans would pay for insurance on the exchanges.

“You shouldn’t have Washington dictating to you you cannot keep the plan you have,” Biden said.

Sanders responded that Biden’s plan “would essentially maintain the status quo.” Biden then shot back that Sanders’ proposal would come with $30 trillion in new expenses over a decade and would necessitate tax increases.

Sanders pointed out that in exchange for those taxes, Americans would no longer have to pay copays, insurance premiums or deductibles, and would have prescription drug costs capped at $200 per year.

At one point, Biden stopped and said to his animated foe: “Put your hand down for a second, Bernie.”

“Just waving to you, Joe,” Sanders responded.

10:23 p.m. ET, December 19, 2019

Biden tells Sanders to "put your hand down for a second"

Chris Carlson
Chris Carlson

While discussing the cost of medical care in the US, former Vice President Joe Biden told Sen. Bernie Sanders to "put your hand down" after the Vermont lawmaker was seen waving it, a gesture he commonly makes during debates.

Read the exchange below:

Biden: "I've added to the Obamacare plan the Biden initiative, which is a public option, Medicare if you want to have Medicare, reducing significantly the price of drugs, deductibles, et cetera, made by underwriting the plan to a tune of about $750 billion and making sure we're able to cover everyone who is in fact able to be covered. Put your hand down for a second Bernie."

Sanders: "Just waving to you, Joe. Saying hello." 

Biden: "I know, I know."

Watch here: